Gail Oerke


The Washington Post Sunday - - OBITUARIES - — Adam Bern­stein

Gail Oerke, 76, who re­tired in 1999 as a news­let­ter writer and edi­tor for Read­ing is Fun­da­men­tal, a non­profit group that pro­motes lit­er­acy, died Dec. 8 at Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter of a per­fo­rated colon.

Among her early jobs, Mrs. Oerke was a writer and edi­tor at the United Na­tions and a re­searcher for the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle.

In the 1960s, she lived in the south­east­ern African coun­try of Malawi, where her then-hus­band was a Peace Corps of­fi­cial. Dur­ing those years, she did vol­un­teer work at a lep­rosy hos­pi­tal.

She set­tled in the Washington area in the 1970s and worked at the Peace Corps head­quar­ters in Washington through the 1980s. She then joined Read­ing is Fun­da­men­tal.

Gail Lovelle Bur­ton was a na­tive of Brown­wood, Tex., and a 1954 grad­u­ate of what is now Bay­lor Uni­ver­sity in Waco, Tex. She re­ceived a mas­ter’s de­gree in his­tory at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas at Austin.

Her mar­riage to An­drew Oerke ended in divorce.

Sur­vivors in­clude three chil­dren, Jared Oerke and Greta Oerke, both of Washington, and Kirsten Oerke of London; a sis­ter; two grand­sons.

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